Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fall Foliage: October


Boo! It’s October and that means time for scares that make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up. (By the way, you should really do something about that.) And so, the second part in Black Sheep’s three part preview of the fall film schedule should focus on what Hollywood has planned to make you pee your pants. There’s only one problem with this though. I don’t care much for scary movies. In fact, I try to avoid them whenever I can and there is no reason why that should be any different in this article. I’ll try my best to grow a pair for next year. In the meantime, how about a different kind of scare?

What could be scarier than adorably awkward it-boy, Michael Cera (JUNO, SUPERBAD), roaming around New York City all night with a girl he just met? Alright, maybe everything but you’ll be hard pressed to find something more endearing and real than NICK & NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. From the trailer, it looks as though Cera is ready to give us another fresh take on disastrously uncomfortable social interaction and he’s going to give it to us in the underground New York punk scene, well, at least some of the less hardcore corners of the scene. This boy meets girl, boy pretends to be girl’s boyfriend for five minutes, boy and girl inevitably fall hopelessly in love over the span of one night story should keep the indie crowd infinitely giddy.

I know this one is scary. This one is about religion (cue scary ghost noises and eerie organ music). Infamously frightening fella, at least to politicians in his past life as a television pundit, Bill Maher takes on organized religion in RELIGULOUS. No religion is left unscathed in this guerilla-style documentary from BORAT director, Larry Charles. Given that Maher himself is an atheist, you know that his cup of sarcasm will runneth over. The only question left to be answered is not whether God exists but rather whether the film going public will turn to follow Maher as their new God.

Fear doesn’t only happen when someone jumps out from behind the bushes and lunges at you with a bloody meat cleaver. Just ask Robert Deniro and Barry Levinson. They know a whole other kind of fear. Like the fear that happens when you sink millions of dollars into a big tongue and cheek Hollywood picture and it doesn’t find domestic distribution after playing prominently at two high profile film festivals. Reactions to WHAT JUST HAPPENED? (a question I’m sure both veterans were asking themselves after each of the festivals in question) had not been beaming but the film, a tale of two weeks in the life of a failing Hollywood producer, has been through a couple of facelifts and is now ready for its public.

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, now that was scary. So we can certainly count on the Oscar-winning director of this 1991 classic to deliver some intense psychological fear with his latest, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED. Alright, I’m stretching again but it will definitely be at the very least unwieldy when black sheep (sorry, I had to), Kym (Anne Hathaway) returns from rehab to attend her sister’s nuptials. Demme looks to be keeping his approach simple with an indie-tinged flavour while Hathaway continues to assert herself as major player in young Hollywood. She could miss the mark entirely with this dark turn but I for one am curious to see if she can actually pull it off. Academy Award nominee, Anne Hathaway … now that’s scary.

I think I finally got it. This is definitely frightening. Imagine you started a promising career as a filmmaker. Your first film, let’s call it LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS was an international indie smash that captured the attention of Hollywood, making it possible to snag the likes of Brad Pitt for your follow up, uh, let’s say it’s called, SNATCH. North American audiences eat it up and you’re sitting pretty until you decide to indulge in the ultimate vanity project, a remake of an Italian classic, maybe SWEPT AWAY, starring your pop superstar wife. The problem here is that your infamous wife is the Hollywood equivalent of the a black cat walking underneath a giant ladder being used to clean up the 13 mirrors you just broke. You are now the laughing stock of the film industry and before you know it, your name goes from Guy Ritchie to Madonna’s husband. Well, Mr. Ritchie has found himself a chance at redemption with a return to his Brit-gangsta roots in ROCKNROLLA. Scoring Gerard Butler for the lead should fare better for him, I think.

Also in October … Walt Disney goes to Taco Bell in BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA … Dennis Quaid takes on college ball and prejudice all at once in THE EXPRESS … Simon Pegg continues to woo North American audiences in HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE … MONSTER HOUSE director returns with a family take on a human race gone underground in CITY OF EMBER … QUARANTINE continues the trend of faux reality low budget video work called film … SEX DRIVE is another teen sex comedy, this time the hero is in a big donut costume … Ridley Scott, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, BODY OF LIES, period … Greg Kinnear takes on the big automobile company after they steal his prototype for windshield wipers in FLASH OF GENIUS (clearly not referring to the decision to make this movie … Mark Wahlberg joins the gaming generation in MAX PAYNE … George W. Bush meets Oliver Stone in W. … Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson are on the run in THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES … The whole gang is back for their first time on the big screen in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 … Angelina Jolie hopes to have some of Clint Eastwood’s Oscar gold rub off on her in CHANGELING … It wouldn’t be Halloween if it weren’t for SAW V … THE BROTHERS BLOOM boasts a great cast (Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz) despite a not so great plot (con-men siblings) … A freaky mystery revolves around Anne Hathaway in PASSENGERS … Edward Norton and Colin Farrell are both brothers and cops in PRIDE AND GLORY … CROSSING OVER is an ensemble piece starring Harrison Ford and Sean Penn … Famed writer, Charlie Kaufman (ADAPTATION) tackles directing in SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK … And on Halloween itself, perpetually amateurish director, Kevin Smith tackles the porn industry with ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO.

Next week, November is a time for thanks.

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